Doreen Virtue, Ph.D., grew up on Unity principles. She initially worked as a clinical psychotherapist specializing in eating disorders and published several books on psychology and nutrition. In 1995, Virtue (who had always been clairvoyant) switched gears, devoting herself to researching and teaching about divine intervention, publishing dozens of books and oracle card decks about communicating with angels. One of her recent books, The Courage to Be Creative (Hay House, 2016), expands the definition of creativity and encourages readers to discover, explore, and celebrate their creative potential. Here, she talks with Unity Magazine editor Katy Koontz about creativity and using it to connect with the Divine.
Katy Koontz: In your book The Courage to Be Creative, you say creativity isn’t so much a gift as it is a skill we can all develop. How so?
Doreen Virtue: Everybody is inherently creative but most of us don’t understand this natural spiritual ability, which includes what I call practical creativity or problem-solving. Creativity isn’t limited to writing books and painting landscapes.
KK: What are some examples of practical creativity?
DV: Think of a problem and then pray on it. The prayer is listening because when you’re on the spiritual path, you have a direct connection to the collective unconscious and God’s infinite wisdom. Go outside any limits and think, Well, what if this problem were solved? What would that look like? And then pay attention. That’s how innovation happens—it’s a form of creativity that’s often overlooked.
KK: So the trick is discovering which way you’re most creative, right?
DV: Yes. Sometimes people have the kid-in-the-candy-store dilemma, where they enjoy so many different types of creativity that they don’t know which to pursue. They get perfectionistic, and then they procrastinate. Pick one area that really interests you—something you feel passionate enough about to complete.
KK: Do people often get partway through and then lose their spark?
DV: When they choose a creative venture with their heads, yes. They may see someone else has been successful at a certain venture, so it seems like a logical choice. But if their heart’s not in it, they will lose interest and not finish. It has to be a project you love—something you’re naturally curious about.
KK: You mention the importance of vulnerability—how vulnerable do you suggest people get?
DV: The most successful songs, movies, and other creations are those that bare the soul of the creator. When I was a psychotherapist, I saw that the healing effect of group therapy is that you would hear someone talk about their feelings and recognize your own feelings in their expression. It’s the same with all creative art—if something moves you to tears, it struck a chord in you that came directly from that same chord that’s within these artists. That kind of oneness is going to heal humanity because right now people judge people who are different. If you find that they cry the same tears as you, they have the same insecurities as you, and they’re lonely like you, then you don’t look at the outside labels. You go right to that heart, and in that place, we’re one.
KK: You advocate for pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone. Does that take a willingness to fail, or is failure really a false notion?
DV: In spiritual Truth, there is no such thing as failure—everything is an opportunity to learn. But in the three-dimensional physical world, failure exists, and most successful people have had more failures than successes. Yet they look at failures as speed bumps instead of roadblocks. I think a lot of people talk themselves out of implementing creative ideas. If people would just follow their divine guidance, we’d have so many more solutions. Creativity is our divine assignment.
KK: Are there consequences to ignoring our creative ideas?
DV: I was raised in Unity and had a very spiritual upbringing, so when I was doing traditional psychotherapy, I was able to tune in to the soul messages of my clients. My clinical specialty was eating disorders, and I found that every one of my clients who were emotionally overeating would turn to food to satiate feelings they could have expressed through writing, painting, dance, or some other creative means. Similarly, those with anorexia issues were rejecting their real selves—not loving themselves enough to trust that they could openly express themselves.
KK: You also talk about surrendering the need to control the outcome. That’s a tough one.
DV: That’s because we feel unsafe. We have to go back to our spiritual basis and remember that our soul is eternal; nothing bad can happen to our soul. What helped me the most through that was trying to find a public person who had never been criticized—I couldn’t find one. Look what happened to our beloved Jesus! Look what happened to Mother Teresa. Even Barbra Streisand! Everyone in this world who’s beloved has been criticized.
KK: I was fascinated by the idea you present about creativity having both male and female energy. The intuitive, feminine aspects seem obvious, but can you explain the masculine aspects?
DV: This goes back to studies I did 10 years ago with the ancient spirituality of the Hermetics. They believed that you need both masculine and feminine energies for any sort of innovation or creativity: The inner feminine receives the ideas, and the inner masculine takes action. That’s the brave, courageous part within us that says, We’re going to take this idea to the marketplace. Both feminine and masculine are equally important.
KK: I never thought of it that way, but I can see that.
DV: Absolutely, because if you’re all masculine, you’re not going to be receptive. You’re going to be trying to be creative from your head with logic. If you’re all feminine, you’ll have all these ideas and think, Gosh, I wish someone would do this. You won’t realize that you’re the one who’s supposed to do it. It goes back to that willingness to fail or make a fool of yourself. Having done that myself many times, I can say it’s much worse to bottle up the creativity than to be made fun of. Getting a letter from someone who says your work changed their life is worth every arrow that comes your way.
KK: You paint the ego as being a bit of a party pooper when it comes to creativity. How do we keep a lid on it?
DV: You don’t. Anything you try to keep a lid on will squelch your creativity. So express it instead. All of us feel ridiculous some of the time—we’re insecure, we feel like a failure, and we think nobody likes us. It’s universal. When that comes up, express those feelings. Just say, “Here’s what I’m grappling with,” and then other people will connect with that honesty because they have felt the same way.
KK: You write that the bigger your life purpose, the louder your fears. Can you elaborate?
DV: As a psychotherapist, I discovered that the clients with the biggest addictions, anxieties, and depression were also the ones who had really big callings to help children, or women, or the environment—and they were terrified. They were scared of success and failure simultaneously. So they had one foot on the gas pedal and one foot on the brake, and they went nowhere. They turned to addiction to silence their inner voice, but that never works. The moment your stomach empties of the alcohol, or the food, or whatever you’re using, the voice speaks even louder because it’s a calling.
When there’s a need in the world, God looks for people who are yes-men and yes-women. The call will go out, and whoever says “yes” first gets the job. Those who feel like God’s not answering their prayer just aren’t stepping up in confidence. But it’s not about having self-confidence. It’s about having God confidence because God’s omnipresent. God is within you and within this idea and within every situation you’re in. So have God confidence, and if you get that call to do something, do it.
KK: Even if you're afraid.
DV: Oh, you will be afraid. I don’t know anyone who’s not afraid when they start something new. It’s a normal response. Just channel that fear into your creativity.
KK: You also write in your book that creativity is a form of meditation. How does that work?
DV: Creativity is communion with the divine, infinite mind of God, and meditation is how we get our divine assignments. If you take just 15 minutes a day of quiet time and ask, “God, what would you have me do?” you’d have more assignments than you could possibly accomplish. Say “yes” only to those that spark your passion the most. Then ask in prayer, “What’s my first step?” Otherwise, you can get overwhelmed and shut down.
KK: You mention that you get a lot of your insights by looking at the stars. Why is that?
DV: The angels told me in meditation that going outside to watch the sunrise awakens our energy. It’s like a natural caffeine. Watching the sunset is a natural sedative to help us sleep. Then they said that if you sit outside at night, the starlight will ignite your creative spark. So I started doing that, and I would get all these messages. You can hear God so clearly under the stars.
KK: Speaking of angels, you recommend calling on two archangels, Michael and Gabriel, during the creative process. That’s some high-level angel power!
DV: We can think of them as lofty, but like God they are omnipresent and unlimited, and they’re very accessible to everyone equally. Michael is all about supporting us through our life’s purpose, inviting us to help the world. He gives us courage to deal with criticism, to have a thicker skin. Gabriel is the messenger. He’s the only angel throughout the Bible who speaks. He can give you the strength to get your creativity out into the world. Gabriel’s also very nudgey—even pushy. So if you want to get past procrastination, call on Gabriel!
KK: In the book, you write that if you think only thoughts of love and success, that’s what you’ll attract. That sounds like quite a challenge!
DV: That doesn’t mean you can’t ever have a negative thought. Negative thoughts are a part of life. What it means is you’re honest about it and move through it so you can go back to thoughts of success and love. When I’m sad, mad, or lonely, I think, Oh, good— this is inspiration coming through. I embrace the emotion with love. I don’t wallow in it and I don’t identify with it. I know it’s a temporary visitor. You have to love all of yourself, including the shadows, and know that the shadows are illusions. Shine the light on shadows, and they go away.
KK: You mention this process takes courage—using affirmations is not being a Pollyanna.
DV: True affirmations come from your soul. They help you take what you’re most worried about and turn it into a positive—into a prayer. Let’s say you don’t connect with your friends anymore and you want new friends. Whatever you think is an affirmation. If you think, Good people would never want me as a friend, that is the reality you will attract. What if your thought was I’m courageous enough to smile at people and say hello, or I have wonderful friends who are supportive and lift me up? Then you’ll get that outcome. The solar plexus is the seat of affirmations, so if you say the affirmation enough, you’ll get butterflies in your stomach—that’s the sign that the affirmation worked. It’s going to happen, and you don’t have to worry about how. Affirmations are, after all, the fabric of creativity.
KK: You mentioned you were raised in Unity. Did you learn about affirmations from your parents?
DV: Yes. When I was 6, my father quit his job as an aerospace engineer in Los Angeles and became a self-employed writer. We had just bought a brand-new house, and right after he left his job, our car quit working.
So my parents, my brother, and I sat in the living room every single day and affirmed, We have a wonderful car that’s paid in full and runs great. My dad even bought a Hot Wheels model of the car he wanted (a Ford Pinto) and painted it brown, the color he wanted. He sat it on top of the television set, and every day, we would look at that as he guided us through this affirmation. He’d have us visualize the car in the driveway and imagine the new car smell, how it would feel to sit in the car, what the engine would sound like. Within about three months, we had that exact car, paid in full. The affirmations attracted enough work that he was able to buy the car.
Another time when I lost my favorite toy while walking to school, my mother said, “God knows where this toy is.” She had me affirm, Nothing is lost in the mind of God. When I woke up the next morning it was right next to my bed. My mom still won’t admit whether she found it or not, but it was there. So I’ve had miracles occur using affirmations my whole life.
One day after I’d already been published, I just had this thought to affirm I’m on a major television show, promoting my book. Within an hour, I got a phone call from CNN. They were doing a segment on spirituality with James Redfield and Wayne Dyer, and they wanted a woman for the third guest. Marianne Williamson had turned them down, so they asked me. I was on an airplane that afternoon, and the next day, I was live on CNN.
KK: What was that like being raised in Unity at a time when New Thought wasn’t as widespread?
DV: I was made fun of because I would use the word manifestation a lot, and nobody said that word outside of Unity. If anyone was sick or injured at school, I would start praying over them, and that wasn’t done either. My mom wouldn’t allow me to take health classes because she believed if you learned about diseases, you would manifest them. So I was raised with this belief that what you think about comes about. And you know, that’s what happens. I never knew any different. I’m glad the world has finally caught up to that knowledge.